In the YIS elementary school we facilitate purposeful and appropriate learning for students of all levels through the IB Primary Years Program (PYP). The PYP delivers curriculum holistically encompassing the academic, social, emotional, and physical breadth of learning. Learning is collaborative, hands-on, integrated, purposeful and action-oriented.
Learning is organized into six Units of Inquiry. Through these units, the classroom teachers integrate language, mathematics, science, personal social education, social studies and ICT, while single-subject teachers integrate music, art, drama, physical education and Japanese language.
Central to the development on internationally minded students are the attributes of the IB Learner Profile and PYP Attitudes. These characteristics are woven into the fabric of life at YIS - in the classroom, the hallways, the sports field, the playground and the lunchroom. The vocabulary of the IB Learner Profile and PYP Attitudes is integral to the interactions between students, teachers and parents.
Units of Inquiry
Integrated learning occurs through six Units of Inquiry. These units integrate subject knowledge across the main curriculum areas of languages, mathematics, social studies, science and technology, the arts, and personal, physical and social education (PSPE). Every year children inquire into a unit from each of these six PYP transdisciplinary themes:
- Who we are
- Where we are in place and time
- How we express ourselves
- How the world works
- How we organize ourselves
- Sharing the planet
Being transdisciplinary in nature, subject knowledge (whether it is mathematics, music or social studies for example) is utilized to arrive at an understanding of the six themes. There may be some key areas of mathematics and language arts that are not addressed through an inquiry unit and these are taught independently, from an inquiry perspective.
Our Units of Inquiry have been developed to ensure that each unit is:
Please click here to view Units of Inquiry for each grade level from ELC1 through Grade 5.
Reporting and assessment take various forms in the elementary school. The prime objective of assessment in the PYP is to provide feedback on the learning process. It happens frequently throughout the school year, providing regular feedback. It identifies what students know, understand, can do, and feel at different stages in the learning process. Teachers select assessment strategies to support how students learn and perform. Teachers design assessment instruments to reflect the particular learning outcomes on which they intend to give feedback. Students and teachers are actively involved in the assessment process.
Teachers use feedback to inform students of strengths in a their work that match given criteria, and by giving specific ways to develop towards their goal. Feedback is timely so that it is valuable at that point in the student’s learning process. Feedback can take different forms; written, oral, demonstration or as an interchange between student and teacher as the teacher assists a student to self-assess their work.
Teachers can give the parents information about their child’s progress development and needs, and about the school’s curriculum. Teachers can also gather background information, answer parents’ questions, address any concerns and help parents define their role in the learning process. Such conferences can be set up by request with the class homeroom teacher or single subject teachers at any time during the school year.
Unit Sharings are a way to share the progress or culmination of a Unit of Inquiry. Teachers invite parents to the classroom throughout the year for Unit Sharings.
Sharing of Documentation
Documentation may include written records of student conversations, comments and explanations, as well as photographs, videos, audio and graphic representations. These can be shared through school displays, student portfolios, class blogs and the YIS Learning HUB.
Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences: October
Parent-teacher-student conferences (PTSC), or ‘Three-way’ conferences, are available for each family to sign up for a short 15-minute time slot to meet with the class homeroom teacher to discuss their child's progress. Through PTSC, students are able to discuss their learning and understanding with both their parents and teacher present. The focus of the conference is on student goal setting in order to support learning. Students are required to attend PTSC.
The Student Portfolio: December and June
A student portfolio is a celebration of a student’s active mind at work. Portfolios are part of the assessment practices employed in the elementary school. Portfolios are one method of collecting and storing information that can be used to document and assess a student’s progress and achievement. Students will take home their portfolios with the first semester report (in December) over the Winter holiday in order to share their work with their family. The portfolios can form part of the Student-Led Conference and are updated throughout the year. Portfolios are to be taken home by students with the second semester report at the end of the school year (in June) and returned to school at the beginning of the next school year. Teachers have up to one month to view the previous year's portfolios before sending these home (in October).
Written Reports: December and June
Parents receive an online, written report of their child's progress mid-year, and at the end of the year. The report summarizes the progress a student has made across the elementary curriculum, including the attributes of the IB learner profile. The report includes narrative comments made by the classroom and single subject teachers. Subject specific knowledge for language, mathematics, Japanese language and mother tongue are reported on a continuum.
Action Portfolio Classes: January
Parents are invited to attend Action Portfolio classes to observe their child ‘in-action’ in areas that lend themselves more to performance: Art, Music, Drama and Physical Education. During the last week of January, parents are invited to observe students participating in elementary lessons in these subject areas and gain a “snapshot” of student learning in action.
Student-Led Conferences: March
Kindergarten through grade 4 students share their learning experiences in a 60-minute conference with their parents. The students are responsible for leading the conference and also take responsibility for their learning by sharing the process with their parents. There may be several conferences taking place simultaneously. The conferences may involve students demonstrating their understanding through a variety of different learning situations. The conferences will involve the students discussing and reflecting upon samples of work that they have previously chosen to share with their parents. These samples have been selected with guidance and support from the teacher, and could be from the student’s portfolio. The student identifies strengths and areas for improvement. This enables parents to gain a clear insight into the kind of work their child is doing and offers an opportunity for them to discuss it with their child. The conferences are carefully prepared, and time is set aside for the students to practice their presentations. Grade 5 students also conduct student-led conferences with parents focusing on the process of the PYP Exhibition.
Some of the parent feedback we received has included:
“The conference gave a full picture of what our child is learning and puts into context many things she talks about at home.”
“The conference was a way to see my child ‘in the moment’ of his school life and is different than having him show me something at home.”
“My child was happy that she could show me her class work and explain in her own way.”
The PYP Exhibition: June
Grade 5 is a special year in the PYP. Students in grade 5 engage in a collaborative, transdisciplinary inquiry process, known as the Exhibition, under the guidance of their teachers and mentors. The exhibition is the culmination of the Primary Years Program. Students are involved in synthesizing the essential elements of the PYP and sharing them with the whole school community. It is an opportunity for students to exhibit the attributes of the IB Learner Profile they have been developing throughout their engagement with the program. Students are given flexibility in their choice of real-life issues or problems to be explored and investigated during the exhibition, and demonstrate how to take action as a result of their learning.
Homework (home learning) has been a very controversial topic over the last few years. It is often perceived as an indicator of a school’s academic rigor and something parents are familiar with from their own school experiences. However, from the research we have reviewed and in dialogue with other educators from around the world there is very little research that supports homework having a significant impact on improving student learning, organizational skills or study habits in elementary aged students. Therefore, reflecting on current research and our school’s philosophy towards learning, we have adopted the following as our approach to home learning in the elementary school.
We consider playtime an important part of childhood and encourage children to actively participate in opportunities to play and be involved in other activities outside of school. We believe it is important for children to have opportunities for unstructured activities, to assist them in developing the skills to plan, organize and encourage creativity and imagination. Many of the children in our school are involved in sporting, educational, musical, creative and cultural activities outside of school, along with the after school activity programs provided at YIS. We also believe that young children need to have a balance in their life between home and school. It is important for them to have time to relax and enjoy their childhood with family and friends, pursue and develop their own interests or have some quiet time after school hours. We also recognize that home learning can be a source of tension and conflict between parents and children. We want to encourage positive relationships at home as these have a much bigger impact on children’s learning and development.
We expect children to read at home everyday. We encourage parents to read with their children regularly, especially in their mother tongue. Reading should form a natural part of the daily routine and emphasis should be on a shared enjoyment of reading. Reading at home is an excellent means of developing thinking skills, increasing fluency, developing language skills and helping children develop confidence with their reading. The child’s teacher and librarians can provide children and parents with recommendations for suggestions of books and other relevant reading materials.
We also want to encourage children and parents to spend time at home communicating in their mother tongue. This not only helps to strengthen their first language but has a significant impact on improving the acquisition of a second and/or third language.
We would also like to encourage students and parents to spend some time together reviewing and commenting on their Learning Journals through our online platform of See-Saw. This will give parents and children authentic opportunities to have a dialogue about the child’s learning.
On an individual basis, there may be occasions where students may be required to work on additional home learning tasks to develop either certain conceptual or skilled based tasks. However, these will be time limited, in consultation with the teacher.
In grade 5, students may have ongoing projects they will be working on for their Exhibition. However, this time should not be more than 45 minutes in a day.
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